Want to travel while still being able to stay connected with friends and family? Want to hit the road and work remotely from your RV? There are plenty of reasons why internet access cannot be sacrificed just because you live an on-the-go lifestyle, but getting Wi-Fi while on the road can be a hassle for many travelers. With high data costs, spotty coverage, and slow bandwidth speeds, picking a provider and choosing a device can determine your online capabilities, or limit them immensely. So to make sure you get the right plan that works for your pocketbook and your travel preferences, we’ve simplified your options to bring you these three popular solutions for getting Wi-Fi while on the road.
Mobile Phone Hotspot
One of the options many RVers use for keeping their devices connected while on the go is to turn their phones into a Wi-Fi hotspot through a process known as tethering. The rules around tethering vary depending on who your service provider is, and many providers now charge extra monthly fees in order to access these capabilities. In order to turn your phone into a hotspot you’ll need to either set up a tethering plan with your wireless carrier, or you'll have to download an app, such as the popular PdaNet+ app which can currently be purchased for around $15. To create a mobile hotspot using your cell phone you’ll obviously need to have a data plan, and it’s worth noting that tethering does drain the battery on your phone, so connecting with a USB might be a more advantageous route.
Portable MiFi Plan
Many service providers, like AT&T and Verizon, offer mobile broadband devices that allow customers to connect multiple users up to the same internet connection. These devices are referred to as MiFi units and they are, most often, compact and slim enough to slide right into your pocket. Examples of these portable broadband devices include Verizon’s Jetpack™ and AT&T’s Velocity™. You do need to set up a service plan with your provider in order to utilize a MiFi device, but this can be a convenient option that grants mobile abilities which are extremely user friendly. Downsides of portable MiFi plans include high prices and bandwidth usage limits.
Free Wi-Fi Boost
Many hotels, bars, coffee shops, RV parks, and libraries act as Wi-Fi hotspots where patrons can access the Web for free. When using hotspots inside of these businesses, it’s customary that you make a purchase from them before leaching off their Wi-Fi signals. A solution to avoiding these unnecessary expenditures is to boost these free Wi-Fi signals. This option is particularly conducive to RVers because it allows you to access the Internet free of cost right from within the comfort of your trailer. In order to boost free Wi-Fi signals, you’ll need to locate a place that acts as a Wi-Fi hotspot. An easy way to find these locations is to use websites like wififreespot.com which searches your geographical area for places that offer free internet access. Next you’ll need to have a boosting device, such as the Wi-Fi Ranger Elite Pack or the Netgear Universal Wi-Fi Range Extender, which allows you to pick up stronger signals from longer distances.
Saying hello to the RVing lifestyle doesn’t mean saying goodbye to dependable internet access. Getting Wi-Fi while on the road is possible, but determining the best and most cost-effective option is an individual choice that changes depending on your data needs and travel tendencies. If you have any personal experience with getting Wi-Fi while on the road, what option would you recommend? Let our readers know by leaving a comment!